“We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too.”
That’s what RNC Chair Reince Priebus said back in 2013 after the party’s second-in-a-row presidential election defeat. They determined their standing among minority communities was badly tarnished and Priebus vowed to address it. We’re only several months into the 2016 primary season and that plan has already been completely derailed.
In just a week’s time Donald Trump did more damage to Republicans’ appeal to Hispanic voters than any single person in recent history with his “rapist” and “drug dealer” lines in his announcement. Republicans thought they may finally had received their “out” of the mess when Trump blasted John McCain’s POW status on Saturday. Actually, it only made it worse. It will be lost on absolutely zero Hispanic voters that it took mere minutes for most of the Republican field to denounce Trump for attacking McCain, while it took weeks to stand up to his immigrant comments, and many Republican candidates still haven’t.
Priebus phoned Trump to tell him to “tone it down” a while after the immigrant remarks, but raised no protest when Trump completely subverted the call with the press by claiming Priebus called to congratulate him. Nor did they make further efforts as Trump began to campaign upon linking immigrants to rapists as his cause célèbre.
Since then he’s doubled- and tripled-down, even holding events with the families of victims murdered by immigrants, a type of move long laced with race-baiting in American history. As if immigrants did nothing other than rape and murder people. As if no other causes of murder in America needs to be addressed.
Now, none of this is news. And to many it’s been an amusing ride, this Trump roller coaster. And in some ways, it is. His bombastic, screw-everyone mentality can be hilarious to watch at times. But at the end of the day, it’s not funny. Not one bit.
Because what often goes unsaid, and what infuriates me personally, is the impact these campaign moments being played out in the national media have at the local level. There’s more real-life consequences than what first meets the eye, happening underneath the radar in communities all across America. There are lessons that regular people take when seeing a candidate be rewarded for such caustic talk toward a minority group.
Some liberals thought taking down the Confederate Flag was a nice gesture, but that it did little to address a number of problems that led to the Charleston shooting. I disagree. The more racist imagery and ideas are made socially unacceptable, the less likely people are to speak of it publicly. If you can shame racist beliefs down from the flag pole and shove it in a closet then yeah, it still exists, but at least it might not be openly taught to others as much. But in the 2016 campaign, dog whistles, bigotry and stereotyping isn’t being shamed. It’s being outright encouraged. And that has consequences.
Every single time a man with bigotry in his heart sees on TV Donald Trump receiving applause and adulation for slandering immigrants, it empowers him. It empowers him to think his racist beliefs are socially acceptable. So then the next time he’s at a family reunion he spouts off about blacks and Latinos, while at the other end of the dining room table sits an impressionable young man, frustrated with life, who begins to nod his head along to his uncle’s rants, and the cancer spreads.
It’s a cancer that is killing this country, undermining what should be America’s greatest strength – its rich variety of heritage and backgrounds – and subverts it into a source of constant social strife. And it’s a cancer Republicans are actively enabling to grow through allowing several of their candidates’ boorish actions to go unchecked.
It’s wrong, it’s despicable, it’s tearing this country apart and the Republican Party needs to be held accountable for it.
Now, I would never say – nor do I believe – that it’s being done intentionally by Republicans. The vast, vast majority of them are good people, with different views than me and my fellow Democrats on policy. But they’ve taken the easy route for too long in turning out votes, using racial dog whistles in campaign rhetoric and policy proposals. Many probably think, oh well, that sentiment is there anyway, what’s the harm in getting votes out of them for something I mostly agree with anyway? Well, they’re wrong in that, and it’s sad they don’t realize the broader impacts. And again, they said they’d do better this time.
“We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too,” Priebus promised.
Where are they now? Where are they when Donald Trump whips a bunch of border crazies into a frenzy in Arizona? Where are they when Scott Walker sings the best hits of dog whistles in his announcement with drug testing for welfare benefits, voter ID laws and the Castle Doctrine? Where are they when Bobby Jindal tells white audiences that minorities need to stop hyphenating their heritage, no longer calling themselves African-Americans or Asian-Americans?
The Republican Party as a whole has been too cowardly, too addicted to this easy voter turnout tool they’ve used for decades, to say enough already to this nonsense. To their credit, several have pushed back, including Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, and even Rick Perry, who flat-out called for Trump to drop out of the race. But the RNC may not be going further because they’re afraid Trump will become so angry, he’ll run an independent, self-financed Ross Perot-like campaign in the general. So they’re waiting it out, hoping the storm will pass.
That is short-sighted and just plain stupid. Do they not realize it’s only going to get worse? All Trump has done is get crazier every single day he’s been in the race. Now he’s on to talking about veterans and giving out Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number on live TV, but he’ll get back to saying incendiary things about minorities soon enough (in fact, it was learned last night that he’s visiting the Mexican border in person this weekend – have fun with that). He wants to run as an independent; let him. Purge your party of these racists, move on and become a political entity capable of survival in the 21st Century.
So cut the cord. Ban Trump from the debate. Call for him to drop out. If not for the Republican Party’s sake, then for America’s. Lunatics like Donald Trump aren’t just making the Republican Party a home for hatred and a bastion of bigotry – they’re fostering racism’s growth all over this country. And Hispanics, African Americans and every other minority group realize that it’s not just Republican policies that are making their life harder, but it’s the racism the party’s rhetoric causes in their neighbors that hurts them even worse.
And if the GOP doesn’t? Well then Trump certainly was correct when he said this: “I see these politicians, they’re all talk, they’re no action. Talk, talk, talk. Nothing gets done.”
by Pat Rynard